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Bose OE review

On the plus side, these Bose cans are light and portable, but we'd really like more bang for our buck Tested at £120.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Not without merit, but we'd like a bit more vigour and a bit more detail


  • +

    Comfortable, light and fold-away portable

  • +

    unflappable, balanced sound


  • -

    Relatively short on detail

  • -

    prone to noise through the frame

Even before they've made any kind of sound, things look good for the Bose (opens in new tab) OEs.

A relatively light headphone at just 147g including cable, they're eminently portable thanks to their pivoting ear-cups.

The appearance of two lengths (0.4m and 1.1m) of detachable cable in the package means excess-cable-misery should never be an issue, either.

The OEs' ear-pads have a single profile all the way across, rather than just running around the edge of the cup – which we find more comfortable.

Put them on, though, and the first doubts creep in – at least, they do if you've a mirror handy. The headband is almost perfectly semicircular, so with the cans in situ there's a great big gap between the band and the wearer's head above both ears – not a good look.

Performance is a mix of pros and cons
Sound is similarly comprised of pros and cons. With a high-bitrate file of The Orb's Perpetual Dawn playing, the OEs serve up a balanced, tidy presentation with the emphasis firmly on separation and low-frequency control.

Politely punchy and with the same restraint demonstrated at the opposite end of the frequency range, they're pretty imperturbable – even if the music you're playing is single-mindedly trying to perturb them. Integration is good, and dynamic upheavals can't ruffle proceedings.

The OEs are a little deficient where fine detail is concerned, though – the midrange, in particular, would benefit from a little more information – and, while they do well resisting thumping through their detachable cable, movement of the ear-cups at can be heard clearly.

So while they are far from a disaster, you don't have to spend very much more to do quite a bit better.

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What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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